India gets its first biofortified sorghum

India gets its first biofortified sorghum

Farmers Sunanda Shinde and Ahilyabai Shinde from Manoli village, Manvat Taluk, Parbhani district, who were part of the participatory field trials said, “We got a higher yield of 10-15% and it also has the preferred market traits.” (DH Photo)

India’s first biofortified sorghum (jowar), with significantly higher iron and zinc than regular sorghum, was formally released in Hyderabad on Thursday.

Developed by ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics), it was released for cultivation by Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth (VNMKV), Maharashtra.

The improved variety, ICSR 14001, released as ‘Parbhani Shakti’ by VNMKV, offers a cost-effective and sustainable solution to address micronutrient deficiency. A MoU was signed between ICRISAT and VNMKV for large-scale seed production and dissemination.

Speaking at the programme to celebrate the launch, Prof A S Dhawan, vice chancellor, VNMKV said: “We are glad to partner in this important initiative that offers a solution to a major concern like high-anaemia rates among women and children in India.”

Dr Peter Carberry, Director General (Acting), ICRISAT said, “Biofortification is an important approach we take as it is cost-effective and sustainable. It addresses hidden hunger with no additional cost to its regular consumers and often sorghum is the cheapest cereal available in the market.”

Parbhani Shakti was developed through several years of work through conventional breeding and has an average grain Fe concentration of 45 ppm and Zn 32 ppm.

This is considerably higher than varieties that are currently being cultivated in India which have about 30 ppm Fe and 20 ppm Zn. Besides, it has higher protein (11.9%) and low phytate content (4.14 mg/100g) compared to 10% protein and 7.0 mg/100g phytates content in most sorghum cultivates. Low-phytate means increased bioavailability of nutrients.

This improved sorghum variety was developed by ICRISAT under Harvest Plus – sorghum biofortification project and was tested as PVK 1009 in Maharashtra state and in All India Co-ordinated Sorghum Improvement Project (AICSIP) Trials.

It was released as a rainy season variety (Kharif) but it can be grown in post-rainy (Rabi) and summer seasons. The yield levels are higher (>5.0 t ha-1) in postrainy and summer seasons with irrigation. When grown in the summer season, it can tolerate higher temperatures (41°C) at flowering and seed setting but the flowering may be delayed (80 days).

Farmers Sunanda Shinde and Ahilyabai Shinde from Manoli village, Manvat Taluk, Parbhani district, who were part of the participatory field trials said, “We got a higher yield of 10-15% and it also has the preferred market traits.”

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